I have never claimed to be a great baker… only a great chef. Haha…
The thing that gets me down with baking is that there are specific, measured amounts, orders of operation, tried and true methods from which you cannot deviate. This has always killed the major fun for me, as really the best part of baking is eating the final product. I just don’t have the patience to follow some unknown author’s orders.
It’s not something I completely shy away from. Baking occurs at key points during a year for me, a few holidays, the random craving, maybe some birthdays. The desserts I can bake without need for looking at recipes: Butter Mochi and Shortbread Cookies (and… box cupcakes). There was one Thanksgiving I had started to make the butter mochi, realizing a bit too late that I was out of vanilla. Whelp… too far now to go out and get some, I’ll substitute a little bit of Almond Extract. Whatever: (this is the artist in me). Thanksgiving comes and goes, great food, stuffed to excess. Come home, open the microwave to heat up some leftovers from earlier and see a bowl of melted butter still sitting in there.
But this means…
THERE WAS NO BUTTER IN THE BUTTER MOCHI!
No wonder it tasted so healthy…
Usually I enjoy cooking, the spontaneity, oftentimes scouting out my kitchen becomes my own personal episode of Chopped. Just as bizarre, but absolutely amazing what you can come up with when you are really forced to get creative. Really the best dishes have been results of curiosity— [I relate this to my senior year in college. I was exploring mixed media and decided to try every combination of mediums together. I quickly found what can give what effect, not that I wanted them all but it was useful research.] Same goes with food…
Back to baking… recently been getting into some French desserts. Craving things I had abroad, wondering why it had to be something I couldn’t have. OR could have but was difficult to get. OR expensive. Thinking about baking in terms of the impossible. Why? I tell myself I can do anything, so why not bake a macaron. Goodness. Didn’t realize I had made those barriers for myself, so I’m glad to say no more of that. I contacted an old friend (TY Deanna!) for recipes and general help. I scoured the internet. Stalked Martha Stewart. Watched countless youtube videos. Got a notebook and went John Nash writing out variations on this-and-that. Re-read the recipes till I had them inevitably memorized. Googled more recipes to where I could spot the differences and forsee the results. Yeah, when I commit…
Step 1: Actually acquire the necessary supplies and ingredients.
This turned out to be just coconut extract on the first outing, 2nd outing—–>
What happened next.. there are no pics to show the process. It was probably the most frenetic, haphazardly done macaron making. This was because I heard it would take many many tries to get this right, so why worry about everything being perfect on attempt #1? It was good fun. Had to redo a few things multiple times. Crack a few more eggs, separate the whites. Try to separate the whites. Rewhip some eggs. Repour out the sugar. Spill coconut on the floor.
Moment of truth, two trays out of the oven…
Decided to change the recipe a bit. But what resulted:
I only ended up making a few actual macarons, as they were too good not to eat as is, or with buttercream just drizzled on top. Yes, for shame, but tasted all the same to me. Close up:
Time to get mechaniacle. Mechanical + Maniacal = Crazy Baking Robot
Followed the recipe to a T. Blended. Sifted. Made a little circle template for the macaron piping. Took my time. Somehow ended up burning half a batch. Oh well! Also some of the tops cracked, meaning I either underwhipped the mixture or didn’t tap out enough of the air bubbles. I’m guessing its the former. Soft peaks. Stiff peaks. I’ve only done that once, and that was the previous nights adventure.
Buttercream: lots of butter. Lots of sugar. Ended up throwing this one out completely and changed the recipe. *See below* Added some unsweetened coconut and leftover almond grounds for texture. This first buttercream tasted good, but the second attempt was way less sweet aaaaaand healthier (lesser of two evils really…)
This is just what happened after I refrigerated it!
Alright. Bust out the mini food processor. Again. Make my almond flour. Again. Sift. Combine. Process. Time to use that hand mixer a bit longer. Make those peaks softer. Stiffer. The perfect white of the egg whites now burning holes into my pupils. Done? Flip the bowl upside down test! Doesn’t fall. Must be stiff enough now. (!!Not SURE THOUGH!!) Re-pipette everything out. Good thing I’ve always had a steady hand. Throw some coconut on there for decoration. Shove in the oven.
Finished batch cooling… Cooked for 5 less minutes than the previous two– This is a total of 10 minutes baking time!
They look great!
From left to right: Batch 3, 2, 1…
I also created a Peanut Butter filling which tastes delicious!
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (I used Jif Natural Low Sodium)
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
2 tbsp of butter, room temp
COCONUT BUTTERCREAM <<< I made this up 1/2 cup unsalted butter 1 cup confectioners sugar 1 tsp coconut extract 1/4 cup coconut flakes 1/4 cup ground almond (leftover pieces that had been sifted out) 2-3 cap-fulls of almond milk Here are the perfectly imperfect, finished macarons! Toasted Coconut Peanut Butter Macarons in front and Coconut Macarons in all their glory. Taste testing is hard work, and now that I'm sick of macarons I can move on to perfecting the fruit tart or strawberry pie... Not!